Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) might be good at this basketball thing.
Markieff had his most complete game as a member of the Suns on Monday against the Golden State Warriors. He scored 16 points with nine rebounds, two assists, only three fouls and no turnovers in 32 minutes (full stats here). Markieff scored 11 of his points in the second quarter alone and played all but four minutes in the second half, including the entire fourth quarter of a tight game. The points and rebounds tied season-highs, while the minutes played were a season-high. Markieff also added a game-high +20 plus/minus statistic that Nick Collison would be proud of.
Mike Tulumello of NBA.com wrote that the rookie’s performance was notable in one other way:
Markieff Morris might be the Suns' best draft pick since Amar'e Stoudemire in 2002. … He is the first Suns' rookie to record two double-digit scoring games in his first five games since Stoudemire in October-November, 2002.
Stoudemire, a six-time All Star currently with the New York Knicks, was the 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year. Not a bad career path to try to follow.
Markieff’s teammates and coaches talked up the rookie in postgame interviews.
“I think he’s a real smart player.”
"He's aggressive. He's skilled. He gives us a toughness we haven't had a lot of."
Teammate Jared Dudley even jokingly interviewed the “rookie sensation” in the locker room after the game:
When Dudley asked Markieff about his sharp outside shooting (on pace for 42 three pointers in 35 games after shooting 22 in 34 games last year), Markieff smiled and said:
“Couldn’t get loose in college. This is my game.”
You can watch Markieff’s official media interview here.
During the game, Markieff turned some heads with these highlights: starting at :50, then again at 1:09, with the dunk from the top of the blog (a better view of that here)
My personal favorite highlight came with 2:23 left in the fourth quarter when Markieff set a screen that freed up Nash for three. Immediately after the play, Golden State called a timeout, and Nash, a former league MVP and 16-year vet, acknowledged the play and put his arm around the rookie as they walked off the court.
Twin brother Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) is heading to the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers today, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. Feigen noted on Twitter that this is a pretty routine move for Rockets rookies.
And although it might seem like a demotion, a D-League stint could end up being a great opportunity for Marcus, who had been playing out of position at the four and, recently, hadn’t been playing at all. Rockets GM Daryl Morey told Feigen:
“Our focus for Marcus is to work on his defense and his offense at the three,” Morey said. “We feel he has ability to play both positions.”
The other plus? You can now watch Marcus for free, online, every night that he plays. The fun starts Friday at 7 p.m.
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) saw the second-most minutes (32) of any Warriors player on Monday and scored 13 points in a loss to the Phoenix Suns. Rush hit two threes and added three assists and two rebounds (full stats here).
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) was back to his normal self on Monday against the Washington Wizards. Pierce scored 21 points (8-18 field goals, 4-9 threes, 1-1 free throws) with eight rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes. It was Pierce’s third game back from injury (and the third game that the Celtics have won, after starting 0-3 without him).
And because it’s Paul Pierce, NBA champion and All-Star, NBA.com posted three separate highlights. Enjoy.
Of those 26 minutes, only three were played in the fourth quarter, as the Heat attempted a comeback. And for once, it wasn’t because Chalmers was yanked in favor of rookie Norris Cole. Cole started the fourth quarter, was replaced by Chalmers, who was then replaced by forward Shane Battier, as the Heat opted to go without a true point guard for the last three minutes of the game.
Before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about Chalmers and his impact on the team’s chemistry. From the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman:
"He brings us something that is unique, because he can play with our best players."
If Spoelstra or other members of the Heat had been asked about Chalmers during the game, they might not have been as complimentary. After Chalmers’ five turnovers, Winderman noted:
LeBron James just said some not-very-nice things to Mario Chalmers.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Chalmers so far. Entering Monday, Chalmers was coming off a three-game stretch where he scored 40 total points, hit 8 of 11 three-pointers, dished 13 assists and turned the ball over only four times. In first two games of the season, Chalmers scored only seven points and one three with seven assists to eight turnovers.
There’s been one constant, though: ALLEY-OOPS.
The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry had some thoughts on Collison’s performance after the game:
Nick Collison was better than the box score indicated. But what else is new? He went scoreless but had five boards and one assist in 12 minutes. He made two extra passes to Serge Ibaka in the first half that were the type of plays that illustrated the kind of ball movement Brooks wants all his players to use.
Monday was the 31st birthday of former KU star Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks). Tonight, the Hawks play against the Chicago Bulls, who drafted Hinrich in 2003. He won’t play — he’s still recovering from November shoulder surgery — and Rotoworld.com reports that Hinrich isn't ahead of schedule and could still be out for another month.
In a preview for tonight’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trailblazers, RipCityProject.com wrote this about a key member of the Thunder bench:
Nick Collison looks a little like a CPA but will break your face
Sounds like a great tagline for a Hollywood action movie.
7 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Sacramento Kings
7 p.m., Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Portland Trailblazers
8 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Utah Jazz